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What is Self-Care?
Self-care can look differently for every individual, but ultimately it’s the practice of actively taking actions to help preserve and improve your own health, well-being, and happiness. That said, there are no hard and fast rules on how you do it. It can be anything that helps bring you peace of mind, grounds you, and makes you feel like your best self, ready to take on the world.
That might look like taking a hot bubble bath before bed at night, treating yourself to a facial and massage on your day off, or creating your own at-home spa day one lazy Saturday afternoon.
Self-care in its entirety could really be any and every thing that makes you feel good about yourself, as long as it doesn’t harm you in the process. There’s merit to the old saying that you can’t drink from an empty cup. Similarly, you can’t love or care for other people—not very well at least—if you don’t first love and care for yourself well.
Self-care demands that you develop and maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. It gives you the opportunity to put yourself first, so you can more effectively juggle your life and responsibilities.
Only when you are in tune with your own needs and wants can you fulfill them and give yourself the strength and peace of mind to help others as well. Still, it is important to remember that self-care is not self-indulgence, or selfishness. As long as all things are kept in balance, self-care is a healthy practice that can illuminate your day and make life just a little brighter.
Benefits of Self-Care
In the fast-paced culture of today, we have less and less time to focus on ourselves and so many things vying for our time and attention that it can be overwhelming.
Due to this, mental angst is at a peak, with more than 4% of the world’s population suffering from anxiety (the highest of any mental disorder), coupled with depression, which is a little lower down the list.
Though it’s neither the whole problem, nor the whole solution, a lack of self-care may be a contributing factor in cases of anxiety and depression. Similarly, self-care may also help in managing such conditions.
Types of Self-Care
There are different types of self-care. Your skincare routine falls under the physical, but there are others too.
Physical self-care involves things that have to do with your physical health and wellbeing. Some examples include:
- Keeping a regular fitness routine
- Developing and maintaining a good sleep schedule
- Indulging in nourishing foods
- Developing and maintaining a relaxing skincare routine with natural products
- Drinking more water each day
- Avoiding potential vices that may harm your physical health
- Practicing meditation or meditative movements like yoga or tai chi
These types of activities allow you to wind down physically and release stress so your body can relax and recharge.
These are things that allow you to fulfill your emotional needs and prioritize your peace of mind. Emotional self-care practices might include things like:
- Engaging in therapy or seeking spiritual counsel
- Creating and enforcing boundaries for yourself
- Taking time out to spend with friends and family
- Avoiding people and places that cause unnecessary stress
- Eliminating toxic habits that contribute to negative feelings
- Allowing yourself to have some downtime without feeling guilty
By taking care of your emotional needs, you will become more attuned to yourself and more self-aware. With self-awareness comes emotional growth, and with emotional growth comes life changing improvements.
Not everything in life is—or needs to be—permanent. Some self-care acts are temporary in nature, but are still just as important. Activities like this might include:
- Watching a favorite show or movie
- Ignoring the pile of laundry in favor a reading a good book
- Indulging in a decadent dessert after a stressful day
- Enjoying an afternoon nap
However, though these things might make you feel better in the short-term, if you don’t implement habits that make you feel better over the long-term you will end up hopping from one thing to another, always looking for that next dose of feel good.
This is the type of self-care that allows you to reap long term benefits with more permanent effects. This includes habit-forming activities like:
- Practicing gratefulness
- Practicing mindfulness
- A regular journaling habit
- Being mentally present during activities
These types of self-care may help change the way you perceive and react to the world. When you take control of your perceptions and reactions, nothing can shake you or ruffle those pretty feathers!
How to Transform Skincare into a Self-Care Ritual
Whether it's in the morning or just before bed at night, your skincare routine is something that is not only beneficial for your skin but also beneficial to your mood and sense of joy. It simply feels good to pamper yourself!
Keep in mind that your skincare routine should always be one that is beneficial for your skin. In fact, we cover how to determine your skin type and at what age you should start using skincare products. But how do you transform a skincare routine from just another thing you gotta do, to “OMG I can’t wait to do that!”?
Think of these ideas a bit like icing on the skincare cake. These ideas are something you might add to your daily routine, or perhaps in lieu of your daily routine.
Incorporate a bit of facial massage therapy into your skincare routine. We all know the relaxing benefits of a kick butt full body massage. While your face isn’t your whole body, you can still really ramp up the self-love by adding nourishing serums and soothing essential oils into your skincare routine.
Don’t just rub them on though. Instead, gently massage them into your skin, using massage tools such as a Gua Sha stone, a Jade roller, or even just your fingertips. Gentle massage to the face helps promote lymphatic drainage, boosts blood circulation, relaxes your facial muscles, and leaves you glowing!
Why not slather on a nourishing facial mask? Masks are a quick way to give your skin a power-packed dose of nutrients and leave you glowing. Just be sure to choose a mask that fits your skin type and individual needs. While the mask is doing its job, you can ante up your self-care ritual by practicing some deep breathing. You could even try a quiet meditation, or pop some earbuds in your ears and search YouTube for a guided one!
Used as a relaxation technique for centuries, aromatherapy is a game changer in any sort of self-care ritual. Aromatherapy is used to help relieve stress, boost mood, enhance productivity, and more. You can pick up an aromatherapy diffuser from an online retailer, fill it with your favorite essential oils, and run it while doing your skincare routine. Some relaxing scents are lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang, jasmine, lemon, vanilla, and bergamot.
Slow beat music has been shown to slow down the heart rate because it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. So, while doing your skincare routine, why not put on some slow music? You can try meditation music or any type of slow beat music that feels soothing. This may have a beneficial effect on your mood, too.
Research has shown that when we see ourselves in a mirror, we don’t appear as striking to ourselves as we might to someone else. That’s because we’re so used to our own features, we don’t notice anything remarkable. We might even focus on flaws.
Instead of focusing on your flaws, every time you look in a mirror practice focusing on the good. Or better yet, accept your flaws as a natural part of you, instead of something you dislike or want to change.
Self-image has a huge impact on your mental and emotional well-being, which means self-hate simply won’t do. You can practice during your self-care ritual by looking yourself straight in the eye, and reminding yourself that you are exceptional in every way, simply because there is, nor has there ever been, anyone like you!
Sure, just practicing a daily skincare ritual can be your self-care ritual. But why not take it a step further and really incorporate some extras to make it special? You’re worth it!